Elia Kazan was the twentieth century’s most celebrated director of both stage and screen, and this monumental, revelatory book shows us the master at work. Kazan’s list of Broadway and Hollywood successes—A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, On the Waterfront, to name a few—is a testament to his profound impact on the art of directing. This remarkable book, drawn from his notebooks, letters, interviews, and autobiography, reveals Kazan’s method: how he uncovered the “spine,” or core, of each script; how he analyzed each piece in terms of his own experience; and how he determined the specifics of his production. And in the final section, “The Pleasures of Directing”—written during Kazan’s final years—he becomes a wise old pro offering advice and insight for budding artists, writers, actors, and directors.
About the Author
Elia Kazan was born in 1909 in Istanbul. He graduated from Williams College and attended the Yale School of Drama before joining the Group Theatre. He was the founder of the Actors Studio, and he won three Tony Awards for direction (for All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and J.B.) and two Academy Awards (for Gentleman’s Agreement and On the Waterfront), as well as an honorary Oscar in 1999 for lifetime achievement. He died in September 2003.
Praise for Kazan on Directing…
“To read this book is to sit with Kazan as he talks about his work. You feel his energy, devotion, and openness. You are given rare and fascinating access to the insights and techniques of a great director.” —Sidney Lumet
“Kazan stands alone in his work both on stage and screen. This book provides an excellent opportunity to deepen our understanding of Kazan’s achievements.” —Alec Baldwin
“A fascinating account of how a master director works. . . . It is also, quite simply, a good read.” —The New Criterion
“A wonderfully conflicted yet curiously confident self-portrait of a great director.” — Los Angeles Times
“Unusually entertaining . . . It’s not just his insights, it’s the incisive way he expresses them.” —New York Observer
“This is Kazan the professional speaking, a giant of the Method spilling his secrets. . . . An indispensable resource for anyone hoping to understand the direction of actors and the differences between stage and screen. . . . Revelatory and instructive.” —Directors Guild of America Quarterly
“Kazan on Directing displays Kazan’s interpretive genius at work, analyzing each major play and movie, working with writers on scripts and actors on interpretations. . . . Invaluable.” —The Providence Journal
“[Kazan] may be the most influential director of his time after Hitchcock. . . . If only every living American director would read this..” —The Buffalo News
“Remarkable. . . . A portrait of the artist in his own words. . . . A marvelous dissection and explanation of how Kazan brought to life some of America’s greatest pieces of drama, and at what personal price.” —Eric Lax, truthdig.com
“Elia Kazan possessed a treasure trove of knowledge about acting and storytelling. What a gift it is to have his ideas between covers in Kazan on Directing—a wonderful compilation of Kazan’s shrewd insights and vast experience.” —George Stevens, Jr.
“Kazan has been called the greatest actor’s director. In this illuminating book he details his methods. A must-read for everyone in show business.” —Carroll Baker
“[This] riveting book is Kazan talking to us—pushing us, lifting us, motivating us. Every student of stage and film should read it.” —Karl Malden
“[Kazan’s] experience as an actor in the Group Theatre helped train him to become one of the greatest directors of actors in the twentieth century. This amazing book demonstrates his rich understanding of the actor as an artist.” —Ellen Adler, Stella Adler Studio of Acting
“Astounding. . . . I have never, ever read anything as clear and personal and detailed (not to mention well-written) as this book. . . . I devoured it.” —André Bishop, Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater